With less than two weeks to go until my first marathon, I decided to head to the famous Santa Monica bike path for one final effort to gauge my fitness. Since most of my runs have been on hilly and mountainous trails I thought a flat run with mile markers would be a good way to find out if some of my ambitious goals were reasonable for this race.
From the start of my run I was chomping at the bit to get going fast. Rather than a long warm up, and easing into an effort as I usually do, I felt almost paranoid to get down to business and begin my workout.
During the run I felt slightly discouraged despite hitting the mile times I wanted to be running. My brain was saying “wow this is pretty hard, I couldn’t hold this up for 4 times as long. There’s no way I could run an additional 19 miles at this pace.” Yet in the end I reached my goal and maybe even ran a little faster. It was a strange feeling to have just accomplished what I set out to do and yet not feel satisfied.
After the run I went to get water, and all of a sudden had the idea to go in the ocean. It hit me so quickly I almost went with out doing a cool down. Sure there were questions like what will I do with my shoes? Will I lose my car key if I jump in? But I decided to risk it and take the plunge.
Within minutes I was playing in the water and diving through the waves. I couldn’t remember the last time I had played in the ocean like this and the feeling of surfing a wave reminded of summers from my childhood on Long Island. Afterwards I retrieved my shoes, and lay out in the sun to dry. Of course in a significantly better mood.
I came to the beach to run without even the slightest notion of swimming and yet going in the water turned out to be the highlight of my day. After the swim I was able to see my run in a different light. During my run I accomplished what I set out to do. Sure it felt hard, but training runs usually feel much harder than races. And with long runs in the days prior to this and hot weather I should have expected today’s run to feel hard. What I was hoping for was this magical feeling that can occur in a run where you are able to surpass your expectations and have it feel effortless. What I forgot is that those experiences rarely occur when in the mindset I was in when I set off. Those special runs occur when you are completely relaxed, when you decide to have fun, or get the urge to go after it.
I don’t know what time I am going to run during my marathon next week, but I do know today’s run was certainly nothing to be discouraged about. And I was reminded that even when pursuing one’s goals, there are always hidden opportunities waiting for you. I suggest you let go and jump in.